These days, the latest skincare products are reduced to letters, just like bras. That’s right. Check out the shelves at your local beauty store and all you’ll see are what we now call alphabet creams: BB Cream, CC Cream, DD creams. So how do you choose what’s best for your skin? What's the Diff: BB Cream, CC Cream, DD CreamThe quick story: Alphabet creams are a combo of serum, moisturizer, primer, foundation and sunblock. They can be worn under or instead of your foundation and under powder, depending on how much coverage you’re going for. Time to decode.

According to New York/New Jersey Board Certified Dermatologist Dr. Rebecca Baxt, not all alphabet creams are alike, so you need to get educated before you buy.

Where did the alphabet cream craze begin? 

It all started with BB creams, aka beauty or blemish balms. They were first developed in Germany by a dermatologist who wanted a single cream to protect and cover skin after laser treatments. The all-in-one formulation became a sensation in South Korea and hit U.S. store shelves in 2011. Today, almost every major beauty company has a BB cream, from drugstore brands that cost under $10 to high-end department-store prodcuts that run upwards of $100 and lines exclusive to spas or doctors’ offices. Research shows that while only 2% of beauty shoppers have purchased a BB cream, nearly 4 in 5 of those who have say they’re hooked. Now, to both complicate and simplify beauty further, we’ve got CC and DD creams, too—both of which perform unique beauty tricks.

What should I look look for in an alphabet cream? So where do you start? Similar to tinted moisturizers, most alphabet creams contain coverage and light-reflecting properties. They’re also full of anti-aging and other active ingredients. The key is to focus on what you need from the product. If discolouration is your primary concern then start with CC cream that contains skin-brighteners such as arbutin or daisy flower extract. If fine lines and wrinkles are the issue, then the new DDs are worth looking at, but BBs with retinol, firming peptides or adenosine will do the trick, too. If your skin is oily or prone to breakouts, choose an oil-free one with a lightweight texture.

What is BB Cream? BB is the Grandmere of alphabet creams. It’s the most all-purpose but can be a little heavy for some skin types. Most have broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher and generally contain zinc oxide or titanium oxide, physical sun blocks that have built-in water-resistant properties. They also have skin brighteners, skin smoothers (like primer), anti-aging components, including peptides and antioxidants such as vitamins A, E, and C and moisturizers like hyaluronic acid and glycerin. BB Cream, CC Cream, DD Cream- What's the Diff?


Urban Decay Naked Skin Beauty Balm, hands down. Smooth even coverage, not too heavy, and SPF 20. This stuff makes skin look and feel smooth. Plus, it’s vegan.   Smashbox Camera Ready BB Eye Cream

Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream for Eyes with Broad Spectrum SPF 15. Imagine an eye cream, BB cream, and lightweight concealer all-in-one. Attack dark circles, puffiness, fine lines, prime protect, conceal and illuminate. This hard worker is a great base for heavier duty concealer. 

What is CC Cream? CC Cream, aka complexion corrector, works to correct colour-related skin issues such as sallowness or redness. It contains SPF and is packed with vitamins C and E. If you’re acne-prone, have dull skin, dark spots or constant redness, CC cream is for you. Note: CC cream is a lot lighter than BB Cream, so if you have sensitive skin or tend to react to heavier or thicker products, try it.


AmorePacBB Cream, CC Cream, DD Cream: What's the Diff?ific Color Control Cushion Compact. It comes in a cushion compact so there’s a sponge inside that is soaked with the product. Use your beauty blender to apply it. It’s super light, has amazing coverage and has spf 50. Leaves skin glowy and perfected every time.  

Moisture Surge CC Cream Hydrating Colour Corrector is a Brazen Editor go-to. It’s got SPF 3o, moisture, and just the right amount of coverage. This oil-free, coClinique CC Creamlour-correcting, perfecting formula creates a natural glow while hydrating and protecting the skin. 

  What is DD Cream? Fresh to the alphabet cream craze, DD cream, or dynamic do-all, is known as the Super Cream. It has the power and benefits of both BB and CC creams—with serious anti-aging properties. We’re told you’ll really see improvements in your skin with continued use, so incorporate it into your daily routine. Looking to reduce the look of those pesky wrinkles? This one’s for you.

BRAZEN INSIDERS RECOMMEND: BB Cream, CC Cream, DD Cream: What's the Diff?DERMAdoctor DD CreamIt provides 15 healthy skin benefits, a mineral based SPF 30, and a white sapphire complex that brings out the beauty of your unique skintone. Bonus: You won’t have to do any skintone matching because it’s self-adjusting.  

INSIDER TIP: This just in: We now have a GG Cream! BB Cream, CC Cream, DD Cream- What's the Diff?

Rebecca Baxt, MD, MBA, FAAD is a Board Certified Dermatologist specializing in both cosmetic and general dermatology for adults and children. She is a nationally recognized certified Allergan Botox, Juvederm and Voluma trainer, and was part of the Voluma launch faculty in 2013. Dr. Baxt is on staff at The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood NJ, as well as Bellevue Hospital in NY. She also volunteers at Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative in Hackensack in the Dermatology clinic.

About the author

Brazen Woman

BrazenWoman Editors share the latest and greatest tips, trends, reviews, contests and giveaways.

Get Brazen In Your Inbox

Sign up to receive our daily or weekly newsletter.